February 23, 2017 at 6:45 pm #4000Animation Pagoda StaffModerator
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Setting Up Project Directories and Saves
Setting a project ensures all related files get put into the same root directory folder. Files must be organized inside the root directory in order to be loaded into an open project scene.
Increment and Save copies and overwrites multiple backup files as you progress. With digital technology it is always recommended to backup files multiple times to ensure work doesn’t get lost.
The Bouncing Ball Project
The bouncing ball project is a solemn rite of passage for beginner animators, meant to test the animator’s ability to exaggerate performance and motion. The most notable principles are squash and stretch and timing Perfecting these elements takes practice.
The Graph Editor can be used to smooth out jerky animation frames into more fluid motion curves. The Timeline can be used to plan out every frame so that motion does not appear too fast or too slow.
The Animator’s Survival Guide
Walk cycles are one of the essential components of an animation demo reel. A good walk cycle displays understanding of observation, timing, and weight. Reference footage is recommended to achieve the best results.
Reference Footage, Image Planes, and Mirroring
Reference footage is used to help provide visual cues during the animation process. Footage can be broken down frame by frame to provide a convenient guide to how motion really looks.
Trying to animate without reference actually takes longer and generally ends up looking slightly off because you are trying to replicate movements and expressions from memory. Memory is never as accurate as seeing the real thing.
To find sources for live reference, look online, ask a friend, or record yourself performing the action you are trying to animate. Mirrors are a handy tool for facial animation.
Reference images can be set up on the coordinate planes in Maya to allow the modeler to quickly sculpt a 3D form simply by tracing outlines. It is recommended to only model half of the geometry, and then mirror the other half. This method saves a lot of time. Footage can also be projected onto planes to rotoscope or serve as a background reference.
I’ve spent hours on this project, and my animation still looks terrible
Break down the workload into smaller segments and gradually refine each section in multiple steps. Begin with rough position blocking, add more details, and end by adding the final polishing touches.
Don’t forget to memorize the 12 principles of animation and go through the checklist when animating to improve results. Floaty movements are the result of not showing proper weight or gravity. Jerky movements or slow motion action usually are the result of not having the right timing between keyframes.
Create strong silhouettes for key poses. Exaggeration can enhance the effect.
In the industry, professional voice actors are a huge influence on the characterization of the animated characters they portray, but it is ultimately the animator’s job to add in subtle details and exaggeration to bring the performance to another level. Animation is time-intensive and not easy to produce, but the results can be very rewarding when done properly.
Parenting, Grouping, and Constraints
Grouping objects will allow moving or scaling a number of components all at once, while parenting groups of objects adds an extra feature that controls all the child nodes.
Constraints are one of those things that seem so simple in principle, yet can be a complete nightmare to do correctly. Constraints are typically used to temporarily pick up an object or attach an item to a rigged model.
A skydome or skybox is used as a surface to project background textures for the sky environment. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
A skybox cube has less vertices than a sphere and takes very little time to set up, but it can show texture seams along edges and corners. The biggest downside to skyboxes is that they work best with static textures.
With video games especially leaning towards verisimilitude, animated day-night cycles and randomly occurring weather cycles are becoming a common practice. Spherical skydomes make it a little easier to show moving clouds and transitions for times of day, but the textures can take some extra tweaking to apply.
Blue Sky/Fox Entertainment
Maya is frozen, and I can’t escape
Maya is a very complex multi-purpose software package, and as a result it can sometimes be quite finicky.
Force quit by clicking on the Maya program tab at the bottom. If Maya keeps crashing continuously, certain files might have become corrupted or your computer’s graphics card might not be able to handle the strain of running the program.
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